Transport chief calls for dialogue before planned strike next week

TRANSPORTATION Secretary Jaime J. Bautista on Monday appealed for a dialogue with transport groups before their planned strike starting March 6 to protest the governments public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program.  

I think we should think hard first before stopping operations. We should have a dialogue first,Mr. Bautista said in Filipino in a video interview with Presidential Communications Office Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil.  

Lets understand what the issues are, because we might not be understanding each other,the chief of the Department of Transportation (DoTr) said in mixed English and Filipino.  

Mr. Bautista proposed a dialogue with representatives from transport operators, the DoTr, and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).  

He noted that representatives from the DoTr were not able to attend previous discussions between transport operators and the LTFRB to clarify issues about the program.  

So, I have already instructed the undersecretary for road sector to coordinate with the LTFRB and with the operators,Mr. Bautista added.  

Last week, the LTFRB issued Memorandum Circular 2023-013 which allowed the provisional authority of PUVs to be extended until Dec. 31, as long as the individual operators are able to join an existing consolidated entity such as a cooperative on or before June 30.  

Public transport drivers and operators have been resisting the modernization program, citing the cost of new vehicles. Operators who fail to consolidate by June 30 will lose their provisional authority.   

Meanwhile, Mr. Bautista clarified that there would be no phase out of old PUV units in areas where groups could not immediately acquire new units for their designated routes.  

He said that the government will provide ample time for the transition with consideration on external factors such as the availability of vehicle supply. Justine Irish D. Tabile